Point of View

Putting Design in its Place

At the intersection of nature and culture is place. We understand that furniture and design are an important expression of place and that good design acts in service of place.  

Fogo Island Workshops is a story of collaboration and the exchange of knowledge between those from here and those from away. The genesis of our workshop begins with the construction of Fogo Island Inn and with a design charette we called, The Aesthetics of Outport Interiors.   

With the help of Ilse Crawford, designers and artists from away were invited to come to Fogo Island to learn about the island and to meet and work with the men and women who make their lives here. These encounters resulted in the design of meaningful pieces, using regional materials and construction techniques that would speak to the ongoing story of outport design.  

This collaboration between those from here and those from away continues today as we explore design in the service of nature and culture.  

Design of This Place

“One of this furniture’s greatest values is its ability to document the remarkable qualities of the people who made it and the evolution of their exceptional culture. Each piece is evidence of its maker’s ability to eke out a living within an environment that required great resourcefulness, stamina, courage, and resilience. Moreover, the furniture expresses the region’s famous sense of good humour and undiminished capacity for sensitivity and warmth.” – Walter Peddle, Adaption and Culture and the Traditional Furniture of Outport Newfoundland 

We should expect a lot from a chair. The Punt Chair is the perfect example of nature and culture distilled into an object. Made with the same time-honoured techniques employed by boat builders to craft the mighty punt – the small wooden boat of Fogo Island’s inshore fishery. If our job in the present is to mediate the relationship between the past and future, the inimitable Punt Chair does that. 

Fogo Island Design Fundamentals

Economy of Materials

Using raw materials efficiently and judiciously, minimizing waste, optimizing the use of available resources, and ensuring the use of materials in a way that is both sustainable and cost-effective.

Cultural Context

Recognizing that furniture is not just a utilitarian object but can also carry cultural significance. It is a response to lived experiences, preserving skills and traditions, and embodying the personality of the maker.

Enough is Enough

In a world of “fast fashion” and planned obsolescence, we make pieces that are built to last and to be shared through the generations. We offer a Right to Repair plan to help keep the furniture pieces refreshed, functional, and aesthetically pleasing for longer.  

Sociable Anarchy

Encourages both a design environment that fosters collaboration, communication, and a shared experience and users to engage with our furniture in a way that suits their needs and preferences. 

Beautifully Useful

Craftsmanship goes beyond functionality and considers the aesthetic quality and materials; rejecting the idea that functionality and beauty are mutually exclusive – the furniture and textiles that you interact with every day should be thoughtfully designed and bring joy.  

Human Authorship

Each piece of furniture and the textiles created here is a result of intentional, skilled, and thoughtful human craftsmanship. We celebrate the hands and minds that add character and authenticity to everything we make.

Creative Parity

The collaboration between those who are of this place and those from away is one of equals. Culture and craft meet new perspectives looking to reinvent tradition through our work. 

Those from Here

Fogo Islanders who can trace their history back through generations and those who now call Fogo Island ‘home’ collaborate to make our vision a reality.

Those From Away

Designers, academics, development consultants, and thinkers all help connect Fogo Island to the global design world.

Maker's Mark

Maker’s marks are traditionally placed unobtrusively on products as a mark of authenticity and pride. It often takes the form of a monogram, simplifying a long maker’s name into a symbol that can be reproduced at a small scale. 

When consider the initials of Fogo Island Workshops – F.I.W. – we were reminded of the International Load Line. This universal symbol, familiar to anyone who has built their life on the sea, indicates the depth for safely loading cargo on boat. The role of Fogo Island Workshops is the hold onto traditions through modern expressions in object and reach out into the world and share our culture. 

Our Maker’s Mark celebrates the connection between those who made the object – with their embodied energy – and those who enjoy it. 

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